I applaud The Times for its editorial (Oct. 16), "Talking Too Much," urging the California Public Utilities Commission to hurry up and establish a rule on disclosure of ex parte contacts.
A new law, AB 3383, mandates that the proposed case decisions written by the commission's administrative law judges be made public 30 days before the commission takes action on them. In the absence of a policy controlling ex parte communications with commissioners, parties unhappy with the proposed draft decisions will spend the 30 days barraging the commission with off-the-record lobbying.
The commission urgently needs a policy to cope with the ex parte problem. At a minimum, it should require that a person who lobbies a commissioner on a pending case must report the activity to all the other parties participating in the proceeding.
The commission needs an effective ex parte rule to ensure both inherent fairness and public perception of fairness in its decisions. Substantial public and private sector legal expense is entailed in the conduct of the commission's formal proceedings.